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Boat Towing FAQ


The BoatUS National Dispatch Center is open 24-hours, 365 days a year to answer questions and dispatch towing and trailering assistance. The Center can be reached by calling 800-391-4869 or pushing Call for a Tow on your BoatUS App. While on the water you can also hail "TowBoatUS" on VHF channel 16 or via a Coast Guard relay to be connected to a TowBoatUS port in your immediate area.

Both the Unlimited and the Unlimited Gold Towing Service Levels provide for towing assistance should your boat break down on the water or run soft-aground and require assistance within the local towing company's Unlimited Service Area. In such an event the tow would be provided for in full with no out of pocket expense to you. All BoatUS-approved towing companies offer a minimum Unlimited Service area of 25 miles from their homeport. Many offer extended Unlimited Service Areas to meet the needs of their local boating community. Your local TowBoatUS Unlimited Service Area can be found here.

The Unlimited Service Level provides for 50% of the cost to tow your boat to a repair facility if you break down at your home dock or while mooring. The Unlimited Gold Service Level provides for 100% of the cost to tow your disabled boat to a repair facility up to 25 miles from its home dock or mooring. BoatUS Towing Services does not provide for pre-existing conditions or tows from a home dock or mooring in the first 30 days of Membership.

BoatUS Towing Service is meant for tows resulting from breakdowns at sea or at restricted use docks. In the event of a breakdown at your home dock or mooring, the Unlimited Service Level will provide for 50% of the cost to tow your boat to a repair facility. The Unlimited Gold Service Level provides for 100% of the cost to tow your disabled boat up to 25 miles from its home dock or mooring to a repair facility. BoatUS Towing Services do not provide for pre-existing conditions or tows from a home dock or mooring in the first 30 days of Membership.

Freshwater applies to all inland lakes and rivers (other than those in Florida) up to the point where the water becomes "brackish" (water which includes some salt). There is no limit on the number of lakes or rivers you can boat on. If you use your boat on both Fresh and Saltwater, or in Florida, you'll want to select the Saltwater option.

Yes. BoatUS Towing Service follows you and your boat. No matter where your homeport is or where you keep your boat. If you're within a TowBoatUS service area, BoatUS will provide for towing service up to your selected service level. Your local TowBoatUS Unlimited Service Area can be found here.

In areas where TowBoatUS is unavailable, an authorized service provider must be used. If there are none available in your area, contact the BoatUS 24-Hour Dispatch Service Center at 800-391-4869. Once verified by the Dispatch Center that you are boating in an area without a TowBoatUS service provider, BoatUS will provide reimbursement for the first $2,500 of the tow under the Unlimited Service Level and the first $3,000 under the Unlimited Gold Service Level.

If you were towed and paid out-of-pocket, you can submit your invoice for review to Restrictions and exclusions to Paid Services apply. Please allow 10 to 15 business days for processing.

Yes. Towing companies begin charging for their service from the moment they get underway. Even after you are already safe and sound in your slip, the clock doesn't stop until the tow boat has returned to its home dock. Remember to take that into consideration when selecting your towing service level, as the average cost of a tow is $750 per incident.

BoatUS establishes Towing-Ungrounding as any operation not involving immediate peril to the boat or to a legally protected marine environment and requiring no special equipment. Salvage includes any operation involving immediate peril to the boat, the marine environment or the use of special salvage equipment (pumps, airbags, dredging equipment, cranes, etc.). The BoatUS Towing Service does not provide for salvage operations such as a sinking or hard grounding. Salvage operations, including towing from the salvage site, would be paid for by a yacht or boat insurance policy, such as GEICO boat insurance.

Yes. A friend or family member using your boat would be provided for up to your towing service level. The towboat captain would need to verify that you are the owner of the vessel and that your Membership and towing level are current.

If the owner of the boat is present, regardless of who is at the helm, the owner would be responsible for having the appropriate towing service, not the guest BoatUS Member on board. BoatUS towing provides for any instance the Member is considered the Captain and responsible for the care and control of the boat.

No, a BoatUS Membership does not provide for towing in advance of a storm. However, your local TowBoatUS can be hired separately to tow your boat for storm preparation. TowBoatUS will discontinue operations when they deem conditions to be unsafe. Also, some companies may require someone to be present for the tow. All GEICO boat insurance policies feature named storm haul-out coverage.

TowBoatUS is on call 24/7 during normal boating seasons. In some areas in the Northern US, the towers may pull their boats for the off-season due to weather conditions. Our 24-Hour Dispatch Center is available year-round by calling 800-391-4869 or by pushing call for a tow on the BoatUS App. The Dispatch Center will be able to check on the status of the companies in your area.

You can use the below sample radio protocol, approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, to hail TowBoatUS countrywide. First Tune to VHF Channel 16.
Boater Hails: “TowBoatUS - TowBoatUS - TowBoatUS - This is the vessel Carpe Diem”
TowBoatUS: “Vessel Carpe Diem, this is TowBoatUS  If it’s not an emergency, please switch and answer on Channel XX”
Boater: “Roger. Switching to Channel XX”
TowBoatUS on Channel XX: “Vessel Carpe Diem, this is TowBoatUS  How can we help you today?”
Boater: “I am looking for a VHF radio check, hailing from Potomac River Red Marker 56.”
TowBoatUS: “Roger Captain.  I hear you (loud, clear, scratchy, static, buzzing, muffled, windy, distant, echoing) from my Neabsco Creek Antenna.”
Boater: “Thank you Captain.  Much Appreciated (or Let me try again in a bit to see if I can fix the problem).”

TowBoatUS: “Roger Carpe Diem.  I’ll be standing by on Channel XX and 16 if you need any help.  Have a great day.  TowBoatUS Out.”

If no answer on 16, you can try channels 7, 9, 68, 71 or 79 or call TowBoatUS by phone and they'll hail you on VHF if they didn't hear the original call.  

Trailer Assist

Yes, Unlimited TRAILER ASSIST® Service will have your vehicle and trailer towed to the nearest repair facility or safe location up to 100 miles from the location of breakdown.

Yes, BoatUS will dispatch a towing service to assist with the retrieval of your trailer.

Yes, as long as you are in the process of either picking up the boat or have just dropped off the boat and are taking the boat trailer back to your storage facility or home, the boat does not have to be on the trailer for BoatUS to provide for the service call.

BoatUS will make every effort to find a company to deliver a tire, but if attempts are unsuccessful after a reasonable effort; BoatUS will send a service provider out to have your boat-trailer hauled to the nearest repair facility or place of safety up to 100 miles.

If — while trailering your boat — you lock your ignition key in your towing vehicle, we will dispatch service to attempt to recover your keys. The program does not provide payment for recovery of boat keys.

Yes, BoatUS will provide payment for the delivery of fuel. The actual cost of the fuel is the Member's responsibility. State regulations on fuel delivery vary and may be restricted or not available.

Yes, BoatUS will provide for the jump start of your vehicle battery as long as your boat trailer is in tow.

BoatUS will dispatch a service provider to assist you, but will not provide payment for the service. Unlimited TRAILER ASSIST® Service is not an insurance policy and does not provide service for highway accidents. This would normally be paid under your vehicle and or hull insurance policy.